After having lived in the vicinity of the Keukenhof for many years, it took a visit of foreign friends for me to - finally - visit this largest flower garden of the world. Somehow, the fact that this is a top tourist attraction had prevented me from visiting before. But the springtime has arrived this year, and even passing through the landscape between Leiden and Haarlem by train makes you see field upon field of brightly coloured tulips. I cannot not take my friends here - and so I do. While on the bus to the Keukenhof, the sky is grey, and the forecast is not very good; I just hope that at least it will not rain, and hope we could still enjoy the flowers without sunshine. At the entrance of the garden, there are many people, and I start to wonder whether it had been a good idea to come. Once inside, however, we soon discover that the gardens are so big, the crowd disperses, and it is actually possible to fully enjoy them.
The first tulips we see, appear huge, and from then on, we just follow our intuition and walk a clockwise circle through the park. We see small corners under big trees, with several types of tulips, and then, we see bigger fields with yellow, red, purple, white, and other colours. There is a lake, there are small canals lined with tulips; an abundance of bulb flowers everywhere, with sometimes dazzling colours and peculiar shapes. Some tulips seem to have teeth, others are round, some are almost done flowering, while others still have to open up to reveal their colour. Yes, there are many people, and I hear languages from countries close by and far away - but rarely does the crowd disturb. We start to recognize certain tulips and colours, which come back in different combinations.
Once a garden providing spices for a nearby castle (hence the name Keukenhof, which means kitchen courtyard), then redesigned as an English garden in the mid-1800s, since 1949 the Keukenhof has been the place where flower bulb growers come together to display their collection of bulb flowers in a two-month exhibition. We are lucky: the sun chases away the clouds, and much of our visit, the sun further enhances the colours of the flowers. After two hours, we realize that it is just impossible to see all of the Keukenhof on one visit; there are several halls with displays of flowers, there is a Japanese garden, there is a windmill, you can make a boat tour to see some of the surrounding tulip fields, there are so many smaller paths to take. Before leaving the gardens, we pay a visit to the historic section: here, we find original flowers from Central Asia and Turkey where the tulip originated, and the descendants of the very first flowers that were grown in the Clusius Garden in nearby Leiden. It is perfectly possible to spend the entire day here - even after four hours, we realize that we had skipped entire sections; but we are perfectly happy with what we have seen.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Keukenhof (Netherlands). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Keukenhof. Read more about this site.